Symposium 2012: What criteria should the U.S. use in assessing military intervention in other countries?

RMC3: Is there an identifiable and imminent threat to the United States or our overseas interests or our allies? We could also extend this to include if there is an imminent threat to the world. If there’s no threat to us directly or our interests, why should we be involved?

I’m not going to rehash Afghanistan or Iraq. It’s very clear where Thinking Outside the Boxe stands on these issues. Let’s frame this in the context of recent and current events. We have Libya, Syria, and Iran. We helped the so-called freedom fighters in Libya depose Muammar Gaddafi and the next thing we know our ambassador is murdered by terrorists in Libya. Did we have any interest in Libya? No. Was Muammar bothering us? No. Was he a threat to the world in general? No. Should we have gotten involved? No.

Do we have any interest in Syria? No. Is Assad bothering us or our allies? No. Is he a threat to the world in general? No. Is it terrible what he is doing to his own people? Yes. Should we get involved? No.

Now, we come to Iran. Do we have any interest in Iran? No. Do we have interest in the region? Yes. Is Iran a threat to the world in general? Yes, if they develop nuclear weapons. And remember they have agreed to the United Nations Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Would Iran’s having nuclear weapons destabilize the region or threaten the security of other sovereign nations? Yes. Would Iran use nuclear weapons on another nation? Yes. Have sanctions been effective? No. Should we get involved militarily? I don’t think we need to put troops on the ground or anything like that, but we do need to consider preemptive strikes against their nuclear facilities or other measure to ensure the destruction of their weapons programme.

Unfortunately, this administration has shown a proclivity for helping “freedom fighters” or terrorists in some cases or the Muslim Brotherhood or folks hostile to the United States take power in other Middle Eastern or North African countries. Obviously, they don’t have much interest in stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons programme as they prefer the sanctions route at the United Nations. I believe they’ve come to accept that Iran will get nuclear weapons. That’s probably going to happen in Obama’s second term, and once Iran does develop nuclear weapons capabilities, it’s a game changer for the Middle East. And of course, at that point, it’s too late to do anything about it.

Sydney: The overarching goal of any such criteria should be to protect U.S interests. The first and perhaps most obvious reason for America to intervene militarily in foreign countries is to prevent terrorist attacks and to prevent terrorists (and rogue states) from getting their hands on nuclear weapons. This is pretty obvious and most people would probably agree on this point. However, ‘military intervention’ does not necessarily mean through the direct use of force. It can also be achieved using indirect means, such as providing resources to governments to assist them in combating terrorism.

The question of whether to intervene to protect the citizens of other nations is far more vexed. Many people around the world are uncomfortable with the idea of the U.S acting like a global ‘policeman’. The unilateral actions of the U.S have provoked a lot of anger in the past. In these cases, where humanitarian aid is the primary concern, the U.S should only act if it has the backing of a large number of nations. It is tempting to state that it should have UN backing. However, the case of Syria shows that getting consensus within the UN is not easily achieved. UN backing for any intervention should be sought but if this is not possible it would seem reasonable for the U.S. to intervene as part of a broader multilateral force, such as NATO.
Michigan: Since the U.S. has no hard guidelines for intervention, we have gotten involved with other countries’ issues all over the world. In most cases, the result have been either failure of settlements that are provisional or reversible. Military intervention should be used only to defend our national security. In the event of intervention we should go in with all the force necessary to end the problem in the lease amount of time.
Cartwright: I’m not one for foreign excursions unless we absolutely have to. And then, I don’t support putting troops on the ground. I think the best strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq and anywhere else is just to bomb the hell out of them. We can attach the bombs to unmanned drones now so we don’t even have to have the Air Force guys flying into harms way. Just bomb these people into submission.

Oh, but wait, that doesn’t play well with the public because innocent people get killed. Well, life sucks then you die. If you’re living in one of these countries with the bad guys running the show, that’s the risk you run. I’m sorry that innocent people would get cashed out, but that’s just the way it is. Are the lives of the “innocent” civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan more valuable, more precious than the lives of our young men and women in the military who have made the ultimate sacrifice on these far away battlefields. My friends, I put the lives of Americans first.

What would it take for us to get involved somewhere? A very clear threat to us or our interest from the bad guys. I wouldn’t get involved in Syria. Now, if they attack our friends in Turkey, then it’s time we bomb Syria out of existence. If the Syrians attack our friends in the region whether its Israel or Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, for example, then we bomb them into submission. And if any of these terrorists or thugs in other countries attack our embassies or kill our ambassadors, then we bomb the hell out of them.

I may be coming across as a war monger, but I’m far from it. I believe in live and let live. If you’re not bothering me, I’m not going to bother you. But, if you come up to me and hit me, I’m going to hit you back about ten times harder and I’m going to keep hitting you until you learn a very valuable lesson. What’s the old saying, “Speak soft and carry a big stick.”

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